SECOND BATTLE OF BULL RUN
The Second Battle of Bull Run (also known as the Second Manassas) occurred 13 months after the one day battle that was the First Battle of Bull Run. This time around the forces would not be led by Brigadier General McDowell, who was relieved by President Lincoln after his defeat the first time around, or General P.G.T. Beauregard who had been transferred after multiple conflicts amongst the southern leadership about why they could not pursue after the first victory. Instead, the rebels were led by none other than General Robert E. Lee, and his war hero Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, while the Union forces would be run by Major General John Pope.
During the summer of 1862, President Abraham Lincoln decided to combine the army of George McClellan and John Pope to make a push at the Confederate capital of Richmond. Because of this, the Union army would finally have a large numerical advantage against the rebels in their fight for Richmond, which at this point had been largely a stalemate in terms of the lines. If the Union arrived at the doorstep of Richmond, they would surely win. This led General Robert E. Lee to make the decisive move of trying to cut off the northern army before they were about to move too far. Lee would send Stonewall Jackson and half of the Northern Army of Virginia towards the northwest to attack Pope’s right flank. After 50 miles of travel, Jackson and Pope’s armies met at the Manassas Junction leading to the Second Battle of Bull Run.
Robert E. Lee’s plans were well designed and organized. Jackson headed up to Bull Run with half of the army, while Lieutenant General James Longstreet would take the other half and join Jackson once the fighting commenced. The Union forces on the other hand, were in turmoil. General McClellan was hesitant to send men to Pope’s aid once Jackson’s attack was detected, meaning that the advantage that the Union army thought they had in the region may not be as large as originally intended.
Fighting commenced on August 28, 1862. Longstreet was able to meet with Jackson’s army after facing minimal resistance from the Union. The major mistake by General Pope was his assumption that he would only be fighting Jackson’s army. Pope was looking for a quick and decisive victory against Jackson before Longstreet would arrive, but due to indecision, defiance by subordinate Major General Fitz John Porter, and Longstreet being closer to the battle than Pope initially thought, this backfired on the Union army. The next few days were deadly for Pope, as he endured 15,000 casualties to the Confederates 9,000. Having to fight armies on both sides of him led to the only decision he could make, retreat back to Washington and deal with yet another defeat at Bull Run.
After this battle, there was a high level of sadness and despair amongst the Union army. They had lost a battle with twice the amount of men due to sheer strategy deficiencies. The North would eventually rebound, but there was no denying that the two Battles of Bull Run were decisive victories for the Confederate cause.